By Laura BennettWednesday 22 May 2019Hope Afternoons
Listen: Brian Head Welch chats to Laura Bennett. Above: Jennea & Brian at Reel To Reel: Loud Krazy Love, 12.12.2018 in LA. (Rebecca Sapp/WireImage for The Recording Academy / LoudKrazyLove gallery)
Very few artists reach the ‘giddy heights’ of commercial success that Korn did, but with that success came the worst of fame’s pitfalls.
In his docufilm Loud Krazy Love guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch takes us behind the scenes of the iconic nu-metal band, and into the years of drug addiction and excess that he ultimately left behind to become a loving dad.
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In 1998 Korn’s third album ‘Follow the Leader’ debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, ahead of pop favourites like Britney Spears, N*Sync and The Backstreet Boys. For the ‘noisy band’ from Bakersfield, California, it was proof a musical revolution was occurring, and that they were at the forefront.
Above: Brian Welch chats to Laura Bennett about his new film.
In the years that followed, Korn headlined top-tier festivals (including Sydney’s Big Day Out in ’99), attracting thousands of fans that embraced their sound and aggressive lyrical expression. The band’s time at the top was marked by all the stereotypes you can imagine: drugs, drinking, parties, and women. It was dark, and life on the road was demanding.
In his interview with Hope 103.2 (watch below), Brian said that when he started out with the band, “it was all ego”.
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“I just wanted to be ‘a famous rock star’,” he said. “There was a [desire to create art] in there, but it just got twisted. In my early twenties it was like, ‘here you go’, every dream you had, you can have. Which was very surreal.”
Despite the success, for Brian something was missing. He had the money, he had the freedom, but in 2005, he decided to leave the group and ‘get clean’. His young daughter Jennea had been touring with them on the road, and Brian was challenged by the effects his lifestyle was having on her.
How Faith Transformed Brian’s Life
For those familiar with Brian’s story, his post-Korn recovery included becoming a Christian, and turning to Jesus to help him recover from addiction and deal with uncontrollable rage.
Brian became a regular at youth conferences around the world, sharing his story with anyone in need of hope, and regularly preaching the gospel to those unlikely to step into a traditional church.
“‘That guy said you were real, so if you are real you better change me, because I’m as good as dead’.”
“I [went] to church, and I heard about the living Christ,” said Brian, “[who] will come to you, and prove He’s real, and put His spirit in you… I listened to it thinking, ‘if this is true – which I don’t think it is – I need that’. So I raised my hand, and I received Christ and I went home and [said to God], ‘that guy said you were real, so if you are real you better change me because I’m as good as dead’.”
Alongside his newfound faith, being a father to Jennea significantly impacted Brian’s recovery. Being a Dad drew him away from the trappings of drugs, and offered him space for a fresh start.
“I believe [Jennea] was sent into the world, as an angel to me, from God,” said Brian “I had to get my mind off of myself so I could raise her. The crazy thing is, her coming into the world actually raised me, too.”
Eight years later, Brian decided to return to Korn – a decision he came to after playing a one-off song with the band, after bumping into them at a festival.
Returning to the Band a Different Man
“It was a [hard decision] because I was like the ‘youth group hero’, having left the world to follow Christ,” said Brian. “Then Christ said, ‘I want you to go back’, and I thought, ‘it’s going to ruin my testimony, Jesus!’” Brian said jokingly. “Running into them on a tour, the first time I’d seen them in eight years… I played one song and the singer broke down in tears, the fans cried, my Dad cries the next day and says, ‘that’s your family, it’s so good to see you back with them’”, said Brian.
Telling his colourful, often-painful story on screen makes Loud Krazy Love both hopeful and confronting. You can’t venture into Korn’s world without seeing footage of drug–induced comas and relationships strained by the pressures of substance abuse. Brian’s parents even recount the days when they knew something was up, but regretfully didn’t know how to read the signs.
Encouraging parents whose kids have their own struggles, Brian said, “Listen to the signs. Listen to your gut. Because Mums know best, [and don’t be afraid] of tough love.”
“He said, ‘I want you to go back [to the band]’, and I thought, ‘it’s going to ruin my testimony Jesus!'”
Within the heartache of Korn’s journey, there’s also a great tenderness to Loud Krazy Love, particularly as we meet Jennea and are taken into her counselling sessions. Brian’s daughter talks about being a six-year-old on tour, having parents who were largely absent, and coping with adolescence while lacking any stable routine.
The pair lay their lives bare on screen, revealing how God can repair even the most broken of lives, and use the darkest times in our lives as a source of light and inspiration for others.
Korn’s other members also feature, sharing their reactions to Brian’s departure and how they processed his new Christianity. Their interviews are raw, and although riddled with profanity, frontman Jonathan Davis’ anti-religious stance temper’s Brian’s journey of spiritual discovery.
You don’t have to be a Korn fan to appreciate the redemptive thread of ‘Loud Krazy Love’. The movie does come with a warning, though, for obvious adult content, and emotional themes that may be challenging for some viewers.
- Read the full transcript of Brian’s interview with Hope 103.2.